Chilly, Chili, Chile

This blog entry about the events of Saturday, December 18, 2010 was originally posted on December 19, 2010.

DAY 2:  “Oh, it’s a little cold here,” Emily said, only wearing a sweater and a scarf when we went out for dinner in the evening around 10:45, merely an hour after she had finally arrived at the hostel (after being in transit for close to 40 hours).  She had been sitting down for so long on the plane that all she wanted to do was go out and walk.

“It’s chilly in Chile,” I said with a smirk, acknowledging the pun.

“That was pretty bad,” said Jay, our welcomed third wheel of the night that we met at the hostel.

“That’s actually my Facebook status right now,” I said.  “That I traveled all the way to Santiago to confirm that pun.”

The three of us were in the quaint and quiet barrio of Providencia on that chilly night en route to Liguria, a recommended restaurant in the guidebook that’s a “legend on the Santiago restaurant circuit.”  For Jay it was sort of a draw, being an Anthony Bourdain fan and foodie, who spent the day going to all the Bourdain-visited eateries in Santiago — despite actually being vegetarian. I’d met him briefly in the hostel lobby earlier that day before Emily’s arrival, and he was keen on going out that night, even without his traveling companion Christine who was way too tired from being up and touring since they landed at 5am that morning.  “[She’s tired,]” he said, happy we let him tag along. “I’m up for whatever; I’m like a robot.”

A robot that loves pisco apparently, because he was drinking pisco sours and martinis at the restaurant while Emily and I shared a fine bottle of local carmenère.  The red wine was perfect for such a vintage, 1940s setting, a place with dark wood and dim lights, the ideal setting for the classic scene in the first Godfather movie where Al Pacino kills off the cop and mob boss.  Coincidentally there was tons of memorabilia on the walls, including a picture of Marlon Brando as the famed mafia boss, the Rat Pack, and Elvis Presley.

“Cheers!” we said, raising our glasses.  “Here’s to our first night in Chile!”

EARLIER THAT DAY wasn’t as social, but it was still rather pleasant with picture perfect weather for a wedding in the park.  I had a pretty late start after blogging duties, but still had more than enough time to do Lonely Planet’s self-guided walking tour of the city highlights. I took the metro to the craft fair at the Estacion Mapocho cultural center, near the not-so-flattering Rio Mapucho.  From there I walked through the fish markets of the Mercado Central, the Plaza de Armas, the Catedral Metropolitana, the Congreso Nacional, the Tribunales de Justicia, the Palacio de la Moneda (gearing up for a big Christams concert), and the (closed) Museo Cultural.  The route led me passed big shopping malls and bustling pedestrian promenades where people hawked goods on the ground and/or posed with human statues dressed as the now-popular image of a Chilean miner (picture above).  And on my way I stopped for the local delicacy, empanadas de pino, at apparently THE place to get them baked fresh for decades, near the central market since I had to fight a crowded mob of Santiaguinos hungry for them. Stuffed with steaming stewed beef, onions, eggs, and olives, the savory filling was hard to manage while eating and I got it all over my jeans.  (Attempting to wipe it clean with a wet napkin only made it look like a shit stain, but on the wrong side.)

Understandably I was not the only one on the walking tour; others were following the same path, like old German dudes who wore socks with their sandals.  The walking tour eventually led me to a park and up the Neptune Terrace, which was one tier below the observation tower of the Cerro Santa Lucia, with sweeping views of the city.  That view was only bested by the view on the top of the Cerro San Cristobal, which I went to later on after chilling out in a café and spending some time in the Palacio de Bellas Artes (showcasing modern art in Chile, including really engaging contemporary video artists, and photography collections of the old and new).  A funicular took me up there just in time for sunset, and some inspiring Chilean flag photos at the towering Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.

“WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE IN THE TWO STEAKS?” Emily asked our friendly waiter with decent English when ordering dinner at Liguria that evening; there was more than one way to have it prepared.

“[This one has olive oil, and chilies…]”

“That’s the one I want,” I interjected.  “Because of the pun!”  (She got the regular grilled steak.)

Despite the chili peppers in the lomo cooked in a claypot, the dish wasn’t too spicy at all by my palate.  Chili peppers in Chile wasn’t such a hot pun after all.  (Get it?)  “Chilean food is actually quite bland,” foodie Jay said, the son of a spice dealer. 

The Indian American from San Francisco conveyed his aspirations as we went to a divey local bar in the barrio Bellavista, a lively nightlife area mostly frequented by locals as far as we could see, as long as you were on the main drag and not the insular touristy patio nearby.  “Look around,” Jay noticed with a bit of drunken excitement.  “We’re the only foreigners in here.”  We did as the locals and drank liter bottles of cheap Escudo beer, chatting about travel and life goals while American pop music played.  Jay was quite inspired with all our travels; he had only recently been bitten by the travel bug and was rethinking his boring accounting job.  Watching Anthony Bourdain, and hearing about all my travels really got him thinking about his direction in life.  I paraphrased Sean Keener, president of the indie travel resource Bootnsall: “If you just invest ten grand to travel the world for a year, it will teach you more about what you need to know in life than academia ever will.”

We had a good night out albeit being indoors, despite the sidewalks bustling with plastic tables and chairs for locals to just sit, drink and be merry in the nighttime air.  Emily requested that we drink indoors because for her it was quite chilly in Chile, which is why we ended up in the divey bar.

“Look,” I said, setting myself up for a punchline.  “It’s a hole in the wall.”  I pointed to the the wall across the way from my vantage point which indeed had a hole in it.  Another bad pun, but at least I got a chuckle out of Jay on that one. 

Next entry: Chilean Graffiti

Previous entry: A Day Without Steven Slater

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Comments for “Chilly, Chili, Chile”

  • Greetings from Valparaiso!  More to come…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  10:23 AM

  • puntastic.

    shit stain jokes only means that there will be poo pics soon…

    send some coal from the mines for my stocking…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  03:34 PM

  • what do locals drink the most?  piscos, pisco sours, or piscolas?  now i’m hungry and feenin for pisco somethin

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  04:58 PM

  • Hope Steven Slater packed more layers! She’s going to freeze her bits off as you head south!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  04:59 PM

  • @ol’ dirty bastos - let’s go get something pisco… hit me up now…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  05:15 PM

  • I’ll be catching up on blog duties during a 6-hr bus ride into… Mendoza.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/20  at  08:30 AM

  • Mmmm, pisco. I love pisco.
    Is there a booze I don’t love? Hmmm…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/20  at  04:37 PM

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This blog post is one of nineteen travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: Chill Out in Chile," which chronicled a trip through the country of Chile, from the central and coastal cities of Santiago and Valparaiso (plus a quick jaunt to Argentina's nearby wine region of Mendoza), followed by a trek through southern Patagonia, and a journey to Easter Island.

Next entry:
Chilean Graffiti

Previous entry:
A Day Without Steven Slater


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